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What to do in those moments where all hope and enthusiasm for futurism leaves you?


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#1
Lily

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What to do in those moments where all hope and enthusiasm for futurism leaves you?

 

I think that is an important question to ask for all futurists and people interested in futurology/futurism. I feel very at home on these boards, always have, because we're very like-minded people in that we envision that today's research will shape tomorrow's life. I've been part of this community for years, yet sometimes I hit a low, a pit, whatever you may want to call it. 

 

How often do we see research being overblown by overly enthusiastic journalists or laypeople? How many times does hope cloud our vision, only for disillusionment to set in when we realize that "within the next 5 years" was 10 years ago and the technology got scrapped, or lost or just didn't come along at all? 

 

How do you guys handle that deep sense of disappointment, how do you prevent that from killing your enthusiasm and squashing your interest? I feel so at odds sometimes with it, because out there, if I am not at Uni, I feel like nobody cares or wants to see what I see, what I envision, what I hope for. Whenever I launch into a talk about how some stuff could really happen in a few years, I get called a dreamer, an idiot, or cute - depending on who I am talking with. 

 

It really has put a damper into things, and I think I'm just a bit tired, so to speak.

Got a hand for me, fellow futurists?


"All scientific advancement due to intellegence overcoming, compensating, for limitations. Can't carry a load, so invent wheel. Can't catch food, so invent spear. Limitations. No limitations, no advancement. No advancement, culture stagnates. Works other way too. Advancement before culture is ready. Disastrous."

There's definitely truth in that...


#2
kjaggard

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Honestly, makerspaces and maker faires help me a great deal. seeing people actively trying to build a farming robot for gardening on mars, or 3d printing devices that enable the disabled who can't afford the 500$ commercially sold devices, it's rewarding.

 

I've met people building self driving cars, making a 3d printed suit of iron man armor, are demonstrating an open source water filtration system that is made from freely available materials for application in aareas of the world where water supplies are unclean, created a modular air control and sensor system for use in soft robotics and user interface, holographic displays, and a bunch more besides.

 

People are doing some great and interesting things, it's just not alway happening on a large stage, sometimes it's some power nerd in a club house in a rural area that's making the science fiction real.


Live content within small means. Seek elegance rather than luxury, Grace over fashion and wealth over riches.
Listen to clouds and mountains, children and sages. Act bravely, think boldly.
Await occasions, never make haste. Find wonder and awe, by experiencing the everyday.

#3
funkervogt

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In moments of such despair, ask yourself: Am I upset because technology X will never be created, or because it will be, but just not in my lifetime?" 



#4
Casey

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My lowest period as a futurist was probably around 2013 or 2014. Seven years after I got into futurism (I came across FutureTimeline December 2011), I've simply seen too much progress in too many fields to enter depressed funks where I think "this is all bullshit, we're never going to get anywhere" all that often (at least in the sense of whether significant progress is being made in tech in general; I can still get depressed over the speed or feasibility of certain specific developments). Yes, I've become a little more discerning over time - hypothetical news about how x material or y new medical procedure "could" perform miracles are pretty much always tossed out by me as a waste of time because they'll end up as eventual vaporware - but the reasons to become depressed or uncertain have faded a bit over time as the proof-of-concepts and success stories have piled up.

 

Nothing can take away the fact that, in the field of AI, that Google Duplex video in June made me mix up the human with the AI (as opposed to the pre-Deep Learning revolution December 2011, where we really hadn't made that significant of progress since Babelfish). Nothing can erase the fact that Level 3 self-driving cars are already available, or that robots are now lithe enough to perform backflips, or that having your full genome sequenced is now dozens of times cheaper than it was seven years ago, or that Virtual Reality has gone from a completely dead field to a multi-billion dollar industry, or that the internet has gone from servicing about a third of the global population to reaching more than half of it. The medical field hasn't made as much definitive progress as I would like, but I expect the 2020s to be a different story entirely thanks to a huge harvesting of genetic information and analysis as genome sequencing finally becomes cheap enough for the average person to bother with, not to mention OpenWater's MRI headband software and improved bodily simulation technology. Not to say that every single ailment will be cured during the '20s, but I do think that the medical world's approach to treating and fighting against disease will become more reliable and organized and less of the obnoxiously slow, tedious process it has always been, to the point where even a lot of optimistic futurists think "eh, whatever" when they read about medical news and discard them as belonging to Boy Who Cried Wolf levels of believable. 

 

 

 

Whenever I launch into a talk about how some stuff could really happen in a few years, I get called a dreamer, an idiot, or cute

 

Oh, and yeah... probably not a thing any futurist should do. I did this a handful of times during 2012 and early 2013, then stopped. Too much frustration. I can understand something sounding ridiculous on its face, but it's still beyond obnoxious that people think they know better about subjects they didn't even know existed until I brought them up seconds or minutes before than someone who'd been reading up on them every day for months (or upwards to a year and a half, since the last time I did this was I think March '13). Not to say that they have to accept everything I say as the gospel truth, but at least give my opinion some legitimate consideration. I'm sure the same would hold true now. "Yeah, I know that I didn't know this subject existed until 20 seconds ago and that you've been obsessively reading about this stuff daily for the past seven years, but everything you just said is bullshit lmao"



#5
Alislaws

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Yeah, seconding the "avoid talking to normal people about the future". Some people enjoy engaging their imaginations and speculating, other people just don't like doing this (and I suspect some people actually can't although that seems crazy!). 

 

When you point out that achieving an indefinite lifespan could possibly be achievable in your lifetime, this requires the person to engage their imagination, and try to conceive of a whole new world, where many things would change. 

 

It is easiest for them to select the first issue they can come up with i.e. "but you'd get bored!" and then dismiss the whole thing. 

 

If you can find a few people who are happy to engage their imaginations then talk to them, or else vent on here. 

----

 

Also as funkervogt mentioned, it also helps to try and be happy and excited on behalf of the future people who may get to experience amazing things that we won't be lucky enough to be around for. This has the added benefit that when some new miracle cancer cure turns out to be some scientist manipulating data to try and get a grant, it doesn't change the fact that some day​ people will be able to live their whole lives without the threat of cancer*. And that is awesome!

 

---- 

 

Also Also: That openwater 2018 BCI talk  Is so exciting in it's implications! So watch that if you're feeling down. And there's a couple of years at least before that could turn out to be a big old fraud or whatever. 

 

 

*unless we really screw up somewhere.

 

 

EDIT: Also, not future related, but if you do live in Germany, focus on how great it is that you don't live in Britain at the moment.  



#6
funkervogt

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The other day, I was at a picnic in a neighbor's backyard. A man walked by along the street with his smartphone held out in front of him, as if he were filming us. I alerted the others and we all stared at him. The man then started talking to himself, and it became clear he was Face-timing with someone. We couldn't hear the other person speaking, but as he got closer, we saw an earbud cord going into one of his ears. 

 

If you went back in time 15 years and tried to describe this incident to someone, it would have made absolutely no sense. 

 

Little moments like that make me realize how much progress is happening that we're taking for granted. 



#7
funkervogt

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'Regardless of how your opinion on it, “Twitter upset that CEO of an electric car company smoked legal weed on a comedy podcast” is a sentence that would have sounded like gibberish 20 years ago.'



#8
Yuli Ban

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Back in 2014, I felt this same angst. I had just become a Born Again Singularitarian between March and May and I've recounted many times of the Walpurgisnacht panic attack. May 2014 is also the date of the first "Yuli Banularity" as there were plenty of amazing breakthroughs or updates happening in May and June of that year— off the cusp of my mind, I can bring up the "perfect nanomotor", HP's The Machine (said to utilize memristors), awareness growing about D-Wave's quantum computer, and the beginnings of hype over DeepMind. Not to mention ASIMO had one last little update. So I was high on futurism and terrified of the prospect of it all going up in smoke over some damn territorial squabbles in Ukraine. 

 

Yet in June or so, I think because I lapsed on my depression medication and was going through a withdrawal at the moment, I had a second sort of epiphany while looking out at the horizon— "it's still so far away." I was hyped over all these things that were happening all at once, and I imagined that I'd even be able to "see" the Singularity as some sort of expanding geodesic dome of raw computronium coming over the horizon, but I also understood that it wasn't likely to happen in my youth. DeepMind wasn't going to enter one last line of code and suddenly: Singularity. I wasn't going to see driverless cars on the road anytime soon. Virtual reality was still years from a public consumer release. Augmented reality looked cool but what chance did I have of actually using it? 

 

Even when I got back on my meds, I felt depressed by this knowledge— "The Future™ just isn't here yet."

 

Over the years, I came up with a coping mechanism: "But isn't it so cool to see the world change?" And yeah, it is. I'm still paranoid as all hell about the prospect of losing it all which is why I much prefer a hard take-off, but watching things progress (relatively) slowly, day by day, has a charm by itself. Yes, there will be dead-ends and failed promises. That's always been the case. And sometimes, there will be announcements and "breakthroughs" that seem to be vaporware for years right up until you see them used in daily life. Sometimes, that has to be the case because the promises didn't account for some unforeseen issues. Think back to nuclear cars and nuclear planes— yeah, you'd only need to refuel them once a decade and you can get 10x the power of gasoline, but if even one crashes, you'd have to evacuate an entire city. We have to consider these things often.


And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future.


#9
PhoenixRu2020

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What to do in those moments where all hope and enthusiasm for futurism leaves you?

 

Just try to see the bigger picture. I mean, when you look at world history in scale of decades and centuries, all the current "existential" troubles and "fateful" choices are no more than short-term insignificant fluctuations. Putin, Trump, Syrian war, and so on - are just fluctuations, which will not change the course of Big History that will lead us (i hope) to wisdom, beauty and greatness we can not even imagine. The dark side of this idea is that, along the way to this bright future, the whole society you live in may collapse and this, too, will be no more than fluctuation.

 

Cure from pessimism? Well, i've recently read about one archaeological discovery with a very sobering meaning. There is a Russian coastal town called Kerch. About 2000 years ago, this town was called Panticapaeum and was a capital of Bosporian Kingdom. Recently, during the construction of new living block on Karl Marx street, a huge pile with human skeletons was found. Anthropological reconstruction made it possible to find out that these were the skeletons of male galley slaves and female slaves working on grain mills. In addition, this allowed historians to reconstruct the important details of their life: the endless menial work of incredible intensity since age of 10, brutal beatings leaving broken ribs and other terrible traces, and eventually death at age 20-25... such was the typical life of typical ancient slave.

 

Compared to their hellish life, our troubles doesn't even worth to be mentioned. Sorry if you find it a bit cynical, but that's how I feel.



#10
eacao

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What do we do in any situation where our expectations don’t match up with reality?

We adjust our theories.

Tech advancement is not slow or unremarkable. Our life today is totally transformed from the 70’s for a reason.

The mistake many people make is, as you correctly pointed out, looking to research and thinking it equates to real products. These futurist magazines often find a click bait bit of research and slap on an arbitrary date—often devised by the researchers themselves who has no marketing experience—and exclaim their tech will soon find their way into our products.

Instead of looking at research, look to the hobby space. A piece of wisdom Steve Jobs shared throughout his life was to look at what hobbyists are doing. “If you want to see 5 years into the future, look at what the fringe groups of society aee doing. Look at the hobbyists.”

Bitcoin wasn’t dreamt up by some MIT research project, it was a libertarian hobby. Deepfakes is probably the next up & comer. PC’s started life as hobbyist gadgets. So did early cars and planes. 3D printers for a long time were gizmos for geeks and now they’re transforming manufacturing from behind the scenes.

If you want to rediscover your confidence in futurism, ditch nextbigfuture or futurism.com and keep your ear to the floor in reddit and github. You’ll see the direction of technology there.


If you're going through hell, keep going. - Winston Churchill

You don't decide your future. You decide your habits, and your habits decide your future.
Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power. - Abraham Lincoln.


#11
Casey

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Despite my previous post in the thread, I have to say that 2018's seemed like a fairly slow year and it's started to depress me. A lot of this is due to stressors in personal life, along with general depression that I've had for close to 20 years now (sudden onset depression and anhedonia back in June 2000), but the fact that tech change has seemed fairly slow this year certainly doesn't help things as futurism has always been one of my main antidotes and sources of hope.

 

The year's been fairly slow and unremarkable for Virtual Reality, not many stories that have excited me a whole lot. News about Artificial Intelligence is much more of a drip feed now than back in 2014 or 2015, where Yuli posted new AI achievements a few times per week. Self-driving cars could have made a lot of advancement this year if not for red tape bullshit, with that bill meant to establish federal guidelines being held up in the Senate.

 

Reading articles about tech advancement can be tiresome sometimes. "But experts say it will be a long time until..." "We're still only in the early days of..." I get tired of so many articles ending with those things. My brain's half-rotted from the depression that set in when I was 12 and my sanity during the 2010s has ebbed pretty low, sometimes I just want to hear that things will get better and they'll get better soon.

 

Urgh. I need a thread listing 2019 predictions from Yuli or something. What are your thoughts on 2018, Yuli? Do you think it's been a slow year? How does 2018 differ from 2017? My futurism momentum has really grinded to a halt as of late.



#12
Yuli Ban

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Despite my previous post in the thread, I have to say that 2018's seemed like a fairly slow year and it's started to depress me. A lot of this is due to stressors in personal life, along with general depression that I've had for close to 20 years now (sudden onset depression and anhedonia back in June 2000), but the fact that tech change has seemed fairly slow this year certainly doesn't help things as futurism has always been one of my main antidotes and sources of hope.

 

The year's been fairly slow and unremarkable for Virtual Reality, not many stories that have excited me a whole lot. News about Artificial Intelligence is much more of a drip feed now than back in 2014 or 2015, where Yuli posted new AI achievements a few times per week. Self-driving cars could have made a lot of advancement this year if not for red tape bullshit, with that bill meant to establish federal guidelines being held up in the Senate.

 

Reading articles about tech advancement can be tiresome sometimes. "But experts say it will be a long time until..." "We're still only in the early days of..." I get tired of so many articles ending with those things. My brain's half-rotted from the depression that set in when I was 12 and my sanity during the 2010s has ebbed pretty low, sometimes I just want to hear that things will get better and they'll get better soon.

 

Urgh. I need a thread listing 2019 predictions from Yuli or something. What are your thoughts on 2018, Yuli? Do you think it's been a slow year? How does 2018 differ from 2017? My futurism momentum has really grinded to a halt as of late.

It's been quite a fast year for me, but the reason why it might feel slow if you get your news from me is because I decided to slow all my posting down to see if others will pick up where I left off. I could have been posting Yuli Banularities regularly all throughout the year.


And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future.


#13
TranscendingGod

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My most disconcerting observation has always been the lack of apparent progress in things relating to the treatment of diseases. Cancer, heart disease, Malaria, Aids, and the like have eluded our most fervent efforts as of yet. I'm waiting for some major breakthrough in any number of diseases and ailments and what I see is very little. There has been undeniable progress but your treatment for any number of debilitating diseases is probably not much different from how it was in 2000. 

 

So what I try to do to reason with my perhaps unwarranted pessimism is look at some of the most promising, nascent technologies like genetic sequencing and editing. As a screening tool for high risk patients for chronic diseases such as Cancer and heart disease it will be an invaluable tool. The amazing thing is that the technology already exists not only in a highly impractical sense but in a well developed and refined technical sense. Literally all we are waiting for is a reduction of cost and a massive roll out in order to let high risk patients know that they are in a higher risk stratification.  There are of course also dozens of things relating to imaging, novel drugs, incipient surgical procedures involving robotics, implantables, and a multitudinous amount of unearthed things which have completely blown by me. 


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#14
Casey

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Despite my previous post in the thread, I have to say that 2018's seemed like a fairly slow year and it's started to depress me. A lot of this is due to stressors in personal life, along with general depression that I've had for close to 20 years now (sudden onset depression and anhedonia back in June 2000), but the fact that tech change has seemed fairly slow this year certainly doesn't help things as futurism has always been one of my main antidotes and sources of hope.

 

The year's been fairly slow and unremarkable for Virtual Reality, not many stories that have excited me a whole lot. News about Artificial Intelligence is much more of a drip feed now than back in 2014 or 2015, where Yuli posted new AI achievements a few times per week. Self-driving cars could have made a lot of advancement this year if not for red tape bullshit, with that bill meant to establish federal guidelines being held up in the Senate.

 

Reading articles about tech advancement can be tiresome sometimes. "But experts say it will be a long time until..." "We're still only in the early days of..." I get tired of so many articles ending with those things. My brain's half-rotted from the depression that set in when I was 12 and my sanity during the 2010s has ebbed pretty low, sometimes I just want to hear that things will get better and they'll get better soon.

 

Urgh. I need a thread listing 2019 predictions from Yuli or something. What are your thoughts on 2018, Yuli? Do you think it's been a slow year? How does 2018 differ from 2017? My futurism momentum has really grinded to a halt as of late.

It's been quite a fast year for me, but the reason why it might feel slow if you get your news from me is because I decided to slow all my posting down to see if others will pick up where I left off. I could have been posting Yuli Banularities regularly all throughout the year.

 

 

You weren't my only source of news, but you were probably the best one. VR-related articles I get from my almost daily visits to UploadVR and RoadtoVR, and general futurism-related news I get from thisisthewayitwillbe, but there's no substitute for getting a flurry of five (or ten, or twenty) updates from Yuli showing concrete progress.

 

Maybe we could consider this a failed experiment and you can return to posting Yuli Banularities? The forums really aren't a fraction as uplifting or informative as they used to be without your updates.



#15
Jakob

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I don't care.

 

I have great parents who've set me up for success at every turn. I'm studying my favorite field in a great university. I have a cushy software engineering job all but guaranteed after I graduate, if I don't decide to go to grad school. I'm relatively fit and in decent health. There's now an awesome girl in my life.

 

Things are looking up for me across the board. Why would I be emotionally distressed because some shit on futurism.com turns out to be vaporware?



#16
PhoenixRu2020

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^ Exactly. Each of us lives only once and in present, not in past or future :)






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